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VIProfile: Mark Pirtle




Mark Pirtle considers himself very fortunate to have started his career at age 16 when he landed himself a job at a local bank in his hometown of McMinnville, Tennessee.

Pirtle continued that banking experience and worked for Commerce Union Bank in Murfreesboro while attending Middle Tennessee State University. Upon leaving MTSU, he joined the Management Training Program at Hamilton National Bank, just a couple hours down the road in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He soon realized that he was not going to be paid for his performance in the banking industry, so he made his next career move and joined an Oldsmobile Cadillac dealership in Cleveland, Tennessee. In just nine months he was promoted from finance manager to the general manager.

“I was hooked, being paid well for my sales performance and entering a business I loved, the new automotive business,” he said.

He worked from March of 1977 in the auto business until he returned to Murfreesboro in January of 1985, buying the Oldsmobile Cadillac dealership in Murfreesboro.

“Murfreesboro was such a welcoming community to new businesses owners,” he said. “I entered the commercial real estate business in 1980 with a couple of friends and auto customers. This was a very interesting business to me and it had amazing returns.”

Mark was introduced to his wife Anita through mutual friends in 1986 and they were married in April, 1987. They have three children and three grandsons.

“We have lived on Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro for 28 years and would never consider any other town to call our home.”

Mark has long believed that it’s a person’s duty to give back to the community, and Mark plays his part diligently by actively participating in leadership roles at worthy organizations such as the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Board, where he has served as its Chairman.

“You learn so much about the community by being involved in the Chamber,” he said. “Rutherford County’s Chamber is the third largest in the state, but the best in so many ways.”

He has long supported MTSU for 38 years, participating in its Dealer Car Program, and supported so many other important programs. As in the Chamber, he served eight years on the Board of Trustees and was at one time the Chairman of the Trustees.

“It intimately connects you to all parts of this outstanding University,” he said. “This University is the number one contributor to the economy of Rutherford County.” One of Mark’s favorite board services was being a charter ten-year member of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. He believes the community was blessed when it received a grant from the Christy Houston Foundation to build the outstanding facility it operates today. As a result, thousands and thousands of children have been served.

Mark is still involved on many Boards and Charities today, with his latest major community endeavor being to build the new Alive Hospice Residence.

“This is a place of care for citizens of all walks of life,” he said. “A patient may be a widow with her only child living in Florida … Being so far away and with her child’s responsibilities at home, it may not be possible for her to be here with her dying mother around the clock.

This is where Alive’s mission and care steps in.” Mark applauded Christy Houston for again coming through to give Murfreesboro a gift of almost half the cost to make the Alive Hospice Residence, a $6 million facility, happen.

The caring people in Middle Tennessee contributed the balance and leaders like Mark were
able to raise this money in about 180 days.

“Through the efforts of many, this loving health provider opened in Murfreesboro in the Gateway a year ahead of our plans,” he said.

Mark now serves on the Murfreesboro Housing Authority Board, led by Thomas Rowe, which helps provide shelter to citizens that cannot afford the current market rate for housing. Serving on Volunteer Behavioral Board, formerly known as the Guidance Center, has also opened

Mark’s eyes to a group of people that society ignores or chooses not to see. Volunteer is led by a 38-year veteran, Chris Wyre.

“I have never witnessed a more dedicated team of mental health professionals,” said Mark, adding that the more he gives back the more inspired he feels.

Looking back over a great career, Mark says he feels fortunate to have owned five auto dealerships and made thousands of friends while serving their transportation needs. He says he was always proud to be the top salesperson every month.

“I cherish those dear friends that the automobile business brought me,” he said. Murfreesboro has been an outstanding County to develop commercial real estate. Over the last 38 years Mark has developed over $200 million in commercial real estate, creating countless jobs, sales taxes, payroll taxes and property taxes.

Mark made the decision to enter the commercial real estate business full-time in 2005.

He knew then that the new Murfreesboro Gateway was where he wanted to conclude his business career.

“It was a new thoroughfare to our city and county complete with a new Interstate exit, a very expanded retail sales component, a badly needed new hospital, new corporate headquarters with new restaurants and office buildings,” he said, referencing the potential he saw in the area.

He says the new hotels, conference spaces and class A apartment developments — all which were badly needed — have rounded out the success of Gateway. Mark says Gateway was all made possible by a group of strong business leaders among the city of Murfreesboro.

“They had the fortitude to step up and make it happen when many were saying that Murfreesboro was large enough,” he said. In further speaking about the real estate business, Mark says Rutherford County has long been blessed by excellent home builders.

“We have led the state in Rutherford County for many years as the number one new home builder,” he said. “Many, many new communities have been built along with badly needed new schools. Our community has the most diverse prices of new homes over any other mid-state county.”

Although the area has enjoyed record growth since 2011, Mark says in the next two years we will begin to see a slowdown.

“Our savvy business owners are already preparing for the inevitable,” he said. “Trees do not grow to the sky. Nashville, for many reasons and not just one, has become the ‘it city.’ This will insulate our Middle Tennessee economy for probably two years after the economic recession starts. I do not think it will be a long recession as long as our leaders rule for the people and not tow the party lines.”

After a long and incredibly successful career in business, Mark says his most influential mentor in his professional life was his friend of 40 years, John Holden of Cleveland Tennessee.

“In 1973 he started a single office loan company,” Mark said. “He never entered the usurious pay day loans because he believed it was defrauding the customer. By 2016 he had grown his company to 110 offices in eight states.”

Holden was approached by one of the largest hedge funds in the country, Warburg Pinus, to merge his company with their company, Mariner Finance. Holden was asked to remain as chairman of the company and oversee acquisitions. Today they have quadrupled thei revenue.

“The lessons Mr. Holden taught me are timeless and will serve any business person,” Mark
said. “Treat everyone fairly in a business deal even if you make a little less. You never know
when that same person may bring you another deal with much stronger profit potential.”
Another lesson Mark learned from his friend: Never do business with less than honorable
people.

“They only bring problems and worry to a deal and you will always be the one to turn the deal around,” he said. “These types of business people never perform as promised.”

Mark also learned early on from his friend to support all the communities in which you do business.

“He is without a doubt the most knowledgeable businessman in the most business arenas that I have ever known,” Mark said. “Also, this gentleman is the most generous person I know. All who know him are blessed to call him friend. What a wonderful legacy to leave!”

The most important principle Mark tries to live by every day is to be kind and respectful to all he comes into contact with, no matter their station in life.

“Toward the end of your career, you will realize just how much this philosophy has
benefitted you, much more than the person you were kind to,” he said.

MARK'S WORD OF WISDOM

In summarizing his great words of wisdom about success in business and life, Mark says he believes there are five characteristics of successful people that can easily be adopted into anyone’s business philosophy. They are as follows:

• Avoid the “earn to spend” mentality. Invest and save every day!
• Focus and write your one year and five year goals down. Review your one year goals monthly. Adjust upward when you do well.
• Make the sacrifices necessary to meet your goals. No good thing comes without sacrifice.
• Take calculated risk. Staying in the safe zone will never catapult you to success!
• Be Generous! With both your time and money. You will be rewarded many times over!

In the meantime, Mark says, “I will be looking for you out there searching for the next great deal!”

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